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    How useful is religion? – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Despite thousands of years of religion, human nature has not changed. So why retain religion?

    A. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev had a cynical answer: “It’s amazing that things haven’t got worse!” Actually they probably have got worse, but Levi Yitzchak hasn’t lived to see it. Not that human nature has got worse, but the negative tendencies have overcome the positive.

    Andre Maurois, the French writer and thinker, said, “It is only the most ancient customs and ceremonies that can provide people with the flimsy shelter of civilisation”. This view is no real comfort when it is precisely from some religious quarters that the forces of uncivilisation have emerged.

    Maybe religion needs to be saved from itself. Before religion implodes, we, who still think it is a good thing, have to do two things – we must accentuate the positive elements in its teaching and so turn it around; and each religious individual must increasingly embody its holiness so that one by one we become a massive force for good.

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